SONOKO SAKAI

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Buttering rituals

Posted on September 29, 2009 at 11:21 AM





Morning toast.


Sakai's been working in his studio from dawn to dusk. There is not enough time in the day when you need it. His show is almost together.  We loaded the big wooden sculpture on the truck. The wooden pieces are delicate.  We cover them with blankets.


I make Sakai a big breakfast: two eggs sunny side up with sliced tomatoes, toast and sliced melon.  I could also make miso soup but he's gone off to walk Ana so I will wait until he comes back. Miso soup only takes a couple minutes since I already have the dashi made. It's a traditional Japanese breakfast soup.


My breakfast compared to the sculptor's is simple. I don't need such a big breakfast, though health experts say everybody should eat a hearty breakfast.  I usually have toast with Jam or honey, some fruit and coffee.  I still have a little left of my homemade apricot butter.

I also have the artisinal butter I brought back from Montreal. I spread them on the toast, using my grandmother's butter knife.


I used to dislike butter as a child.  I would gawk at the sandwiches my mother made because she put too much butter on the bread.  It was as thick as a piece of American cheese. Eating butter was a luxury for my mother.  She grew up during the war feeling hungry for many years that when she was finally able to afford some luxury, she went overboard on butter, cream and milk.  She was that way with jam too.  My father used to stare in disapproval at the amount of jam she would spread on her toast. 


My grandmother used butter regularly for baking cakes. This was unusual for a Japanese lady born in 1902 but her parents were innovative.  In fact, she was one of the first Japanese ladies in Kamakura to own a western oven.  The women in the neighborhood would wander over to our house, wondering where the lovely aroma was coming from. So much so that Grandmother started giving lessons in baking. She handled the butter with great care and didn't allow any of it to go to waste. She even recycled the waxed paper in which the butter was wrapped to line her cakes. Grandmother was also rather English when it came to breakfast.  She had Black tea with milk, yogurt, toast with butter and jam. She would take her time to brew the tea and spread the butter on her toast.  She always used her favorite butter knife which she inherited from her father. My grandmother ate butter every day and lived to 102 years old.  Butter must have done her some good.


Finally, there is my 86 year old father who doesn't eat any butter except when I bake him butter cookies. Whenever I am back in Tokyo. He buys butter just for me so I can have it on my toast.  He brews the coffee and puts a little square of butter in the microwave to soften it so that when I come down to join him for breakfast, the butter is spreadable on the toast. He says he is my butler.


My mind is already full with  to-do-lists this morning.  When I sit down to have breakfast, however, I bring out my grandmother's knife.  I spread butter on my toast with quiet pace.  

It helps me start the day right. 

Categories: Breakfast Fare , Kitchen Tools and Utencils

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